Dear Friends and Family,
A decade ago, on the Saturday between Christmas and New Year’s, a handsome man I had never seen before walked through the door at my parent’s annual Holiday Dance. “Who is that?” I said out loud. I walked over, introduced myself and now we have two kids, four broken-down vehicles in our yard and a whole lot of memories of the meandering path that brought us here.
Oh, and there’s going to be a wedding! Nope, not ours; we believe in loooong engagements. Tony’s oldest, Molly, is getting hitched to my nephew, Jordan, and we all get to have double titles from now on. I’ll be Jordan’s aunt and his stepmom-in-law. Julian will be Molly’s brother and cousin. Iris will be Jordan’s first cousin and his sister-in-law. Tony will be Jordan’s father-in-law and uncle. You get the gist. Most people get kind of quiet and wide-eyed when we laugh about this, but we don’t mind. Their looks of confusion and mild distaste remind me we need to do something about those four broken-down vehicles in the yard.
Our first year as a family of four – with Tony’s four older daughters flitting in and out from time to time – has been, well, … messy. I’d seriously consider using all the money I make at my Grandma Grace’s resort cleaning cabins to hire someone to clean our cabin if it weren’t for the fact that we know everyone who lives around here. Our mess will have to stay our own.
Iris, who is in first grade and turns seven at the end of January, continues to make one beautiful mess after the other, setting up puppet shows, song and dance performances, all manner of arts and crafts, and a fun favorite: indoor athletic obstacle courses. She dances from joy to joy, happy as a clam, even when I’m grumpy at her for not cleaning up her mess or turning down her joyful noise.
Julian, who just turned one, is our bull in the proverbial China shop. If there’s an electric cord, string of any sort or even a hanging plant accessible, he pulls on it until he finds out what’s on the other end. If there’s something that will rip, he likes to see how many pieces he can create. If there’s food to be squished, buttons to be pushed, drawers to be pulled or saliva to be drooled, he’s on the job.
Tony’s mess is chock full of hunting gear, grilling accessories, books he’s read and everything woodworking. He both bow- and rifle-hunted this year, putting two deer in our freezer. Iris especially loves the venison jerky he makes, asking for it in her school lunches long after we’ve run out. I appreciate the mess we don’t make in the kitchen when he asks “What’s for dinner? Want me to grill?” The Traeger pellet grill and smoker he got last Christmas sure wasn’t granted an easy life when it came to live at our home. He loves it and uses it many times a week. Smoked boiled eggs? So good.
I continue to play at music, jewelry making, sewing, driftwood art and my writing, keeping at least three corners of the house messy with more than is required for all of those undertakings. I wrote a column for the Warroad Pioneer for four years and sadly watched it close its doors this past spring. Without the forcing function of a deadline, writing fell to the back burner until this past fall when I began to write in earnest on my first novel. I say “first” with confidence, because whether this book comes to something or not, the joy I get from the process tells me all I need to know about what I’m meant to be doing. If only there were self-cleaning houses and children and yards so I wouldn’t have to stop so often or worry about what the neighbors think when Iris is left-unattended, using the broken-down vehicles as climbing structures.
Of Tony’s girls, Molly is now in Washington state, Sophie is in Grand Forks, and Maggie and Evangeline are busy with hockey and school. We see them whenever we can and miss them always.
We are blessed to have both sets of Grandparents close-by. Deb and Marvin still live on the westernmost point of Flag Island and we love to visit them when busy life and the water or ice allows. My folks, Bill and Linda, are still in “The Big House”, as we’ve all come to call their big log cabin. If I’m even a minute late to pick-up Iris from school, she runs across the road to visit them before I can track her down.
Our little parcel of land, adjacent to my folks’ land and the resort, now has a dirt driveway and a cleared plot for our future house. When the ground thaws in the spring, we’ll get the remaining stumps pulled and gravel poured to make it ready for building. It will be lovely to live walking-distance to the school, the lake and the Knight / Prothero side of the family.
Tony is still a summer fishing guide and The Angle’s UPS driver, wearing out vehicle after vehicle on the long Angle road. Kids in tow, I fill in driving as needed and help at the resort. Life is trucking right along. Our kids are healthy. And we’re all decently happy with our messy lot in life. We’d sure welcome a visit from anyone who wants to see our little corner of the world. Or get ready, and maybe we’ll come to you!
From our mess to yours, Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and have the most amazing New Year and new decade!
-Kellie, Tony, Iris & Julian